If you ask 100 Freemasons that question, you will likely get 100 different answers. Being a Freemason isn’t a simple wrote answer that you can just give. Every member comes at it from a different perspective and it means something different to each.
On some level though, I would like to think that we are all striving to improve ourselves, to become something more than we already are.
For some, I know that means getting out in the community, helping with the soup kitchens (or putting on a community meal at the Lodge), clothing and fund drives, or maybe even helping with roadside cleanup.
For others that means embracing the ritual and becoming a Lodge officer. The chance to learn leadership skills, public speaking, and working with others to plan for the future is a strong pull.
For still others there’s the pull of the fraternal bonds you develop. The ability to go just about anywhere and find a Brother you can grab a cup of coffee with is beyond measure.
For me it’s about the journey. It started out simply enough, my dad, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers were all Freemasons so I joined for family. There is something special about being a part of the bond that connects both sides of my family. It also means that as time has gone on my reason for being a Freemason has changed.
I was one of those that wandered away from the fraternity for a while and when I came back I wasn’t really sure why, but part of it ended up being for the brotherhood, at least at first. It was nice to be able to show up to Lodge and sit down and talk with so many Brothers, having a shared experienced really helps to get the conversations started. It was doubly nice as I was able to join in conversations with my dad as a peer, not just as his son.
I was then drawn to the officer line. I have to say it was, on the whole, an amazing experience. Learning the ritual helped me get a deeper understanding of what we do (as one of my ritual mentors use to say, “all the answers are in there”) and then getting the opportunity to serve my Lodge as Master was both eye-opening and fulfilling.
Which then brings to where I am now.
For me, I embrace the statement I made before, I believe to be a Freemason is to improve upon oneself, to become something more than than I was when I started.
For me that means expanding my knowledge of our fraternity, the history, the symbols, the ritual, and all of the things that enable us to be an organization (that boring stuff, Constitutions, by-laws, etc.). It means that I take that knowledge and share it with others (the best way to learn is to teach), help them expand what they know and how they think about our fraternity. I don’t want to create a swarm of mindless drones that simply quote what I say, but true workers, those that are willing to dig in and learn and share back.
Will we always agree? I certainly hope not! If we always agree, that means that you aren’t developing differing opinions and viewpoints, which ultimately means that no one is growing – becoming more.
So, what do you feel it means to be a Freemason?